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What Did You Expect? Interview

June 8, 2011

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BCC Author Q & A with Paul Tripp

As part of our BCC vision, we want to help you to get to know gifted biblical counseling authors and their books. This week we’re highlighting Paul Tripp as he talks about his book, What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage.

BCC: With a title like, What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, is this book going to scare some engaged couplesaway from the altar?

PT: “I am persuaded that personal spiritual neediness is the portal to relational hopefulness. It’s when I face my need of God’s help that I begin to realize that God’s love for me enables me to love others. Honest books end up being the most hopeful books.”

BCC: “Does everyone enter marriage with unrealistic expectations—or is this mainly a problem for those who marry at a young age?”

PT: “I think all of us tend to underestimate the power of sin to disrupt, corrupt, and complicate relationships. The DNA of sin is selfishness (1 Cor. 5:15), so sin in its fundamental form is anti-social.”

BCC: “Why do you think we enter marriage with unrealistic expectations? Shouldn’t pre-marital counseling take care of this problem?”

PT: “The problem with the typical pre-marriage counseling is that it tends to address the locations of marital struggle (sex, finances, roles, etc…) and not the cause of those struggles (the selfishness of sin that still resides in our hearts).”

BCC: “You write about the principle of ‘prepared spontaneity.’ What does this look like?”

PT: “Prepared spontaneity means that you have taken seriously what the Bible says about a flawed person in relationship to a flawed person, you have taken seriously how the Bible calls you to live with one another, and you have taken seriously what the Bible says about God’s empowering grace. Because you have taken these things seriously, you don’t know what will happen in your marriage tomorrow, but you have already prepared your heart for it.”

BCC: “You share three wisdom perspectives to help couples have realistic marriage expectations. Can you share those with our readers and explain how they help keep our expectations grounded?”

PT: “The Bible says you are conducting your marriage in a fallen world, as flawed people and in the presence of a faithful God. So, you know your marriage will be affected by the broken world in which you live. You know that you and your spouse will have bad days and will do and say bad things. But you also know that God is with you and meets you in your moment of need with rescuing, forgiving, and restoring grace.”

BCC: “You write that ‘everyone’s marriage somehow, someway, becomes a struggle—becomes something they didn’t intend it to be.’ That seems like a pretty depressing statement. How can any marriage survive?”

PT: “The hope of marriage is found in the realization that the Creator of marriage is also the Savior of marriage. God is not so unkind to ever call us to a task without enabling us to do it. If He puts a Red Sea in front of us and He means for us to cross it, He is going to send a boat, build a bridge, give us the ability to swim, or He’s going to part the waters.”

BCC: “You say that the war for our marriages is actually a war of worship. Explain why you believe worship is both the problem and the cure for marriage struggles.”

PT: “I am always surrendering my heart to something and the thing that rules my heart will control my words and behavior. My problem in my marriage has not first been that I do not love Luella enough. No, I don’t love God enough, so I insert myself in His position and end up not loving Luella as I should.”

BCC: “You encourage couples to pray, together and separately, because it pushes us in all the right directions. Can you demonstrate how this works by using the Lord’s Prayer as a model?”

PT: “Because marriage is often a war between the kingdom of self and the kingdom of God, what could be a healthier prayer for a couple to pray than, ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done, right here, right now in our marriage as it is in heaven’?”

BCC: “What should a single person do or learn to help manage expectations of marriage in the future?”

PT: “There is no better preparation for hopeful realism in marriage than the reading and study of Scripture. The Bible is the world’s best diagnostic; no book understands the human struggle like Scripture. The Bible also offers the only really effective cure; the convicting, rescuing, transforming, and delivering grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no better way to enter marriage than knowing what can go wrong and understanding how it gets fixed.”

BCC: “Thank you, Paul. It has been great to learn more about Gospel-Centered, grace-focused marriage from you.”

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